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  • Writer's pictureJackie Booth

Why Do Women Struggle To See Themselves As Leaders?

I don’t want to stereotype but there is a common trait amongst women that we find it hard to call ourselves ‘a leader’.


Believing we have good leadership skills is something that is a struggle, even when we can easily identify leadership characteristics and strong female leaders around us.


In this blog, I explore why women struggle to see themselves as leaders and how we can overcome the barriers to seeing and believing in our leadership abilities.


Recognising other women as leaders


Recognising other women as leaders is easy, right?


You see women in the public eye like Michelle Obama, Jacinda Ardern and Oprah Winfrey and you think how amazing they are.


Even in your own life, you may look at women you know and admire their talents, their energy and their successful approach to leadership.


You see them managing their lives and their children, supporting their partners, pursuing their careers and the causes they’re passionate about.


You find yourself inspired by the way they set the example for others by being positive, supporting and kind, but when you try to see those same amazing qualities in yourself, it's a struggle.


“They’re really great…” you might think, “..but that could never be me!”


You don’t see yourself as a leader. You are worried that you won’t achieve the success you want or see in others.


You don’t believe in you.


In reality, you are likely to be just like the women leaders you admire. You are essentially doing all of the same things.


Others probably see you as inspirational and as a leader. But you don’t see this at all.


Common reasons women find it difficult to see themselves as leaders.


There could be many potential reasons why you, personally, might not be feeling your leadership powers. I've listed some of the more common ones below.


However, remember this list is definitely not exhaustive, and you might not resonate with all of them, but hopefully they will allow you to expand and explore your own thoughts and emotions.


Work through the list and take some time to consider the reasons as you reflect on why you struggle to see yourself as a leader or having strong leadership qualities:


· You compare yourself unfavourably to others, especially on social media

· You don’t speak up enough, and don’t feel heard when you do

· You don’t feel you have the credibility to propose new ideas or challenge old ways of working

· You don’t think you’re good enough

· You downplay your own efforts and skills

· You don’t feel you have any ambition

· You don’t feel you have the confidence to be a leader

· You feel like a fraud in the workplace


Just because you may have these limiting beliefs about yourself, doesn’t mean that you have to live with them.


It doesn’t mean you can’t lead. It doesn’t mean you can’t gain confidence in your leadership abilities.


If you are struggling to see yourself as a leader, then it’s time to start with discovering the right mentality.


Recognise what’s stopping you seeing yourself as a leader


We all have a pesky “inner critic” in our head that whispers self-sabotaging messages to us.


You’ll be glad to know that this happens to even the most inspiring of leaders.


The worst part is that not only do we listen to those thoughts, we believe them and then feel worse about ourselves. You may not even realise this is happening, or deep down you know you’re self-sabotaging but you don’t know how to stop it.


I can’t stress enough that we all feel like this at times, but thinking it doesn’t make it so.


It’s important to recognise what you are doing and better still dismiss those self-saboteurs.


It’s time to embrace your amazing leadership qualities.


4 ways to embrace your leadership qualities and start seeing yourself as a leader


1. Acknowledgement of your leadership abilities.


One of the most useful tools in coaching is acknowledgement, and having the ability to acknowledge yourself.


We usually expect acknowledgement to come from others, but if you work for a boss or in a team that doesn’t acknowledge you, then you can feel deflated and unappreciated. In those situations, being able to acknowledge yourself and giving yourself a pat on the back can take the focus away from negative thoughts and feelings.


It can also help to have an ‘acknowledgement swap’ with someone you trust, once a week. You can do this however you like – over text, a phone call, or even by writing a letter!


However you do it, I guarantee that over time it’ll help boost your self-confidence and self-belief, making you feel happy and more positive.


Take a read of my post "What Makes A Great Leader?" all about leadership qualities (and feel positive and confident in yourself as you do) and see how many you can identify with.


2. Set goals to help you see your leadership achievements.


Effective and successful leaders have a clear vision. They set goals and take action to work towards them.


You will find this is most rewarding when you can commit to doing this on a regular basis. This can be a challenge, but you get out what you put in.


Consistent effort with goal setting will pay dividends when you know what you want and that you’re taking action to achieve it.


3. Ask for help - this is not a leadership weakness.


One of the main reasons you might not feel comfortable asking for help is because you don’t see this as a leadership quality. You don’t want to appear weak and needy, and may be scared of the result.


Being humble enough to ask for help when you need it, is a great leadership quality.


It not only shows the high level of judgment and consideration you have; but demonstrates your trust in others to help you.


Think about when people have genuinely asked you for your help and support, and I’d imagine that you’re only too pleased to be asked, offering any assistance that you can.


It’s the same for the people you ask and it empowers not only you, but them as well. It doesn’t have to be a large request. Start with something small and see how your mentality changes.


4. Collaborate with others and take turns to be the leader.


Working together as part of a team is great fun. It’s productive and builds relationships.


In a team, you can rotate the leadership roles to develop individual skills and abilities. This will help you to get to know your own leadership style and to observe how others choose to lead.


This inclusive approach to learning helps with your own self-awareness; as you’ll become more aware of the areas where you are at your best and those where you want to develop further, without expecting to lead all of the time


Giving women confidence to be leaders


Taking your next steps


I hope my thoughts have inspired you and got you thinking about the ways you may be doubting yourself (unnecessarily) and how you can start to take small actions that will help you feel more like a leader.


My mission is to support women to bring all of themselves into how they lead.


You don’t need to lose your femininity and compete with men. You can lead from the heart and, most importantly, be your best self.


I’m always open to chatting to women, like you, who want to step up more as leaders.


Let’s face it, the world needs more great leaders right now.


Work with me and let me help you to face your inner critic and find the confidence to see yourself as a strong and competent leader. My 121 Coaching Programme is designed to help you do just that.


Book a call with me today and let's have a chat about your most pressing leadership challenges


And finally, if you have any questions about leadership struggles and how to overcome them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Jackie x



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